Healing and recovery is a process that takes time. How much time it takes differs from person to person. Many survivors find that this is a lifelong process, sometimes working with professional support including counselling, alongside trying different healing and wellbeing practices like meditation or exercise.
There are three stages of recovery from trauma, which most survivors find overlap at different times, with stages one and two often needing to be revisited:
Recovery stage 1: Safety and stability
This stage is about recognising the ways in which we are now safe. It reaffirms that whilst the world can be a dangerous place the majority of people are mostly good. It centres on the adult survivor now having power and control over their life, and the choices this gives them.
Recovery stage 2: Remembrance and mourning
This stage is about processing what happened, unpacking the trauma, and what was lost as a result of those experiences. It is not only that abuse happened that was wrong, but also the good experiences it prevented from happening, what we missed out on.
Recovery stage 3: Reconnection and integration
This stage is about taking care of ourselves, empowerment, and beginning to reconnect with our previous hopes for the future and to develop new aspirations and goals. As we become more comfortable and confident with ourselves, we can also strengthen our relationships with others, including having healthy boundaries and advocating for our wants and needs.
It is important to understand that these stages are likely to overlap, and that the process of healing and recovery will be most effective when the survivor is able to make their own choices. This is why NAPAC places so much emphasis on letting survivors make choices and providing non-judgemental support.
“No intervention that takes power away from the abuse survivor can possibly foster recovery – no matter how much it appears to be in their own best interest.”
Judith Herman (Herman, J. L. (1992). Trauma and recovery. Basic Books).